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1093/jss/fgm042 DEVELOPMENTS by THE University Press on behalf of the /†∞/ IN IRON AGE © The author. Published OF OxfordPROTO-SEMITIC PHONEME University of Manchester. All rights reserved.
ON SOME ALLEGED DEVELOPMENTS OF THE PROTO-SEMITIC PHONEME /†∞/ IN IRON AGE CANAANITE DIALECTS*
THE HEBREW UNIVERSITY OF JERUSALEM
This article takes issue with two proposals made in recent scholarship concerning the development of the Proto-Semitic phoneme /†/ in Iron Age Canaanite dialects: 1) retention of this phoneme in the dialects of Transjordan, and 2) its merger with the phoneme /t/ in the Hebrew of northern Cisjordan. The article argues that both proposals are untenable. Proposal (1) is based on a problematic interpretation of Judg. 12:5–6 and of the spellings of an Ammonite royal name in an Ammonite seal impression (b¨lys¨∞) and in Jer. 40:14 (Ba¨alis). Moreover, this proposal is contradicted by the evidence of NeoAssyrian spellings of Transjordanian proper names, which testify to the merger of /†/ with /s/: uruAs-tar-tu (the city of Ashtaroth) and likely also mBa-a’-sa (a royal name which is argued to derive from the original root b¨†). Proposal (2) is contradicted by the evidence of Hebrew inscriptions from northern Cisjordan, which consistently render the Proto-Semitic /†/ with the letter s. It is possible that the phoneme /†/ was initially retained in the Hebrew of northern Cisjordan, but there is no positive evidence to support such a possibility. Hence, it is more reasonable to uphold the view that the merger of /†/ with /s/ was characteristic of all Iron Age Canaanite dialects.
How does one reconstruct the phonology of a language, whose speakers lived thousands of years ago? In the words of a recent reference book on comparative Semitic linguistics, ‘The phonemes of ancient written Semitic languages are reconstructed on the basis of various indications, such as traditional pronunciation, description by mediaeval grammarians, transcriptions in other languages and scripts, orthographic peculiarities, and comparative Semitic linguistics’ (Lipinski 1997: 106, §10.10).
* I wish to express gratitude to my teachers, Profs Mordechai Cogan and Steven E. Fassberg of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who read an earlier draft of this article and offered valuable remarks. Needless to say, the responsibility for all the views presented in this article is exclusively mine.
DEVELOPMENTS OF THE PROTO-SEMITIC PHONEME /†∞/ IN IRON AGE
Of course, for those languages and dialects that did not survive beyond the ancient times, the first two criteria are irrelevant, and the remaining three are often not sufficient for a definite reconstruction — especially when the amount of textual evidence pertaining to a given language or dialect is scanty. Yet, even in such cases, careful attention to the available evidence and to the way in which it relates to the general edifice of comparative Semitic linguistics is often sufficient to allow at least a tentative reconstruction of the phonology of a poorly attested language or dialect. Or, looking at the other side of the same coin, such attention allows one to invalidate those possibilities of phonological reconstruction which do not fit the evidence, however circumscribed the latter may be. The purpose of the present article is to describe two cases, in which a careful consideration of the available evidence allows us to invalidate some proposals made about the development of the Proto-Semitic voiceless interdental /†/ in different Canaanite dialects of the Iron Age (1200–586 BCE).1 I The first case has to do with Canaanite dialects that were spoken to the east of the Jordan river: the Hebrew of the Israelite population in Transjordan, and Ammonite. The locus classicus for the notion that the Hebrew speech of Transjordanian Israelites differed from that of the inhabitants of Cisjordan is the ‘shibboleth story’ in Judg. 12:5–6:
Then the Gileadites took the fords of the Jordan against the Ephraimites. Whenever one of the fugitives of Ephraim said, ‘Let me go over’,
It has to be noted that although ‘[c]urrent linguistics distinguishes sharply between speech and language, between sounds and phonemes’ (Lipinski 1997: 103, §10.7), the phonemic analysis of any given language cannot proceed without an attempt to define, at least approximately, the manner of articulation of the phonemes involved. The conventional reconstruction of the Proto-Semitic phoneme /†/ as a voiceless interdental [q] is based, first and foremost, on the traditional pronunciation of Classical Arabic. However, in Ugaritic, which had certainly retained /†/ as a distinct phoneme, there is some evidence supporting such reconstruction (Tropper 2000: 112–13, §32.114.19; and cf. ibid., 119, §32.144.310). Although all features of Proto-Semitic are, by definition, reconstructed, only those phonemes and morphemes, which are postulated for Proto-Semitic without being attested in the known Semitic languages, will be marked in the following discussion with an asterisk (*). The same mark will be used for those forms in known Semitic languages, which are not fully attested in extant sources but are reconstructed based on considerations of comparative Semitic linguistics (e.g., vocalized forms of words attested in West Semitic inscriptions of the Iron Age in consonantal spelling only).
5 One of the theories raised concerning the dialectal differences underlying the shibboleth story holds that in the spelling sibbolet for Translation according to the NRSV. 1). 1 Kgs 4:13). 3 2 3 . 15. However. in a number of cases. ‘Are you an Ephraimite?’ When he said. 3:10–13. the term Gilead is used in the Hebrew Bible with reference to the whole territory of Israelite settlement to the east of the Jordan river. the inhabitants of the central hill-country of Cisjordan. ‘Then say Shibboleth’. Then they seized him and killed him at the fords of the Jordan. the reconstructed Iron Age vocalization will be considered along with the Masoretic one..4 This uncertainty is due not only to the late date of the activity of the Masoretes (over a millennium after the end of the Iron Age). but also to the fact that the Masoretic pronunciation of Hebrew did not. ‘the land of Gilead’ is specified as the territory of all the tribal units who received their allotments of land in Transjordan. ‘Sibboleth’. Thus.2 At first sight. Forty-two thousand of the Ephraimites fell at that time. see Hendel 1996: 70. they said to him.DEVELOPMENTS OF THE PROTO-SEMITIC PHONEME /†∞/ IN IRON AGE the men of Gilead would say to him.g. which underlies the forms sibbolet and sibbolet as they are apparent to the present-day reader of the Hebrew Bible. for ease of discussion. e. This definition is somewhat oversimplified. 34:1. the vocalization of the word s/sibbolet in the MT does not reflect the vocalization of this word in the Iron Age Hebrew. for he could not pronounce it right. and he said. the phonemic structure of the word s/sibbolet and the manner of the articulation of its first consonant by the populations of Gilead and Ephraim during the Iron Age have been matters of disagreement among scholars. the term Gilead is circumscribed to the area of Israelite settlement in Transjordan south of the Yarmuk river. stand in a direct connection with the earlier dialects of Gilead and Ephraim. In any event. 17:1–5. Hence. ‘No’. no scholar has ever considered the Yarmuk as a boundary between different dialects of Transjordanian Hebrew in the Iron Age. in all likelihood. YHWH shows Moses the whole land promised to Israel. including ‘Gilead as far as [the city of ] Dan’ (that is. 4 Indeed. 5 For a summary of different views on this point. including the territory to the north of Yarmuk). However. in Deut. However. the area of Israelite settlement in Transjordan.3 was pronounced as [sibbolet] by the people of Ephraim. in the case that the original vocalization of the word is important for the particular point under consideration. there is no certainty that the traditional (Masoretic) pronunciation of Hebrew. Josh. 4:43. has correctly preserved the phonetic peculiarities of the Hebrew dialects of Gilead and Ephraim in the Iron Age. Deut. and in Josh. n. since in most cases in the Hebrew Bible. 22:9. the story appears to relate that the word pronounced as [sibbolet] by the inhabitants of Gilead. which was probably *s/subbult(u) (Hendel 1996: 72. the word s/sibbolet will be cited below in its Masoretic vocalization. while the area of settlement north of the Yarmuk river is specified as Bashan (see.
41:6 — is. e. if one is ready to accept the notion that the phoneme /†/ was retained in the Hebrew dialect of Gilead (for the polyphonous character of several letters of the Hebrew alphabet during the first millennium BCE. standing for both the phonemes /†/ and /s/ (leaving aside the question of the phoneme /s/). lie well within the range of probability. see Blau 1982). §13. the Proto-Semitic phoneme /†∞/ was not retained in the Hebrew dialects of Cisjordan. which was retained in the Hebrew dialect of Gilead but could not be marked with a separate letter in the 22-letter alphabet (of Phoenician origin). see Faber 1992: 8. has also proposed that in the Hebrew dialect of northern Cisjordan. Still. The spelling of the word [sibbolet] with the letter s implies that by the time when the shibboleth story was composed. and second. as will be shown below. torrent’ in Biblical Hebrew. Rendsburg. 1988b). often realize /†/ as [s]’ (Lipinski 1997: 121. Gary A. twbly) in the Jerusalem Targum (Pseudo-Jonathan) to Gen.9).g. 4 6 . Rendsburg (Rendsburg 1988a.e. Garr 1985: 28–30). Both of these premises. and has been more recently reiterated by Gary A. the most recent proponent of the retention of /†/ in the Canaanite dialects of Transjordan.6 On the other hand. that in the Hebrew writing tradition of Gilead. in which Hebrew was written. the Proto-Semitic /†/ had merged with the voiceless palato-alveolar fricative /s/ (see. 9 For sibbolet meaning ‘stream. see Isa. that the author of the shibboleth story was aware of the Gileadite spelling convention in regard to the phoneme /†/.. Kutscher 1967: 173–4.DEVELOPMENTS OF THE PROTO-SEMITIC PHONEME /†∞/ IN IRON AGE the word pronounced by the Gileadites. Emerton 1985: 150–1). torrent’. in Cisjordan and in Phoenicia).9 This proposal rests on two premises: first. the letter s was polyphonous. 27:12. and the literature cited there). and the speakers of those dialects were unable to articulate this phoneme. However. however. the ProtoSemitic phoneme /s/ had shifted from a voiceless dental affricate *[ts] to a dental fricative [s] (for an original affricate realization of the Proto-Semitic phoneme /s/. Rendsburg recognized the point made by Speiser’s critics that the only alleged positive evidence for a Proto-Semitic root *†bl — the Aramaic form *tubla’ (pl.. 8 This may be compared to the situation when ‘readers of the Qur’an who have no interdentals in their own language and try to pronounce them. Speiser over sixty years ago (Speiser 1942). the Proto-Semitic /†/ had merged with the voiceless dental plosive /t/. according to this theory. This theory was first proposed by Ephraim A. 7 It is generally assumed that to the west of the Syro-African Rift at least (i. the letter s stands for the phoneme /†/. as opposed to the root sbl underlying the noun sibbolet = ‘ear of grain’ (Rendsburg 1988b: 75).7 The best they could do to imitate the Transjordanian word [†ibbolet] was to pronounce [sibbolet] 8 — a pronunciation which the MT renders by the spelling sibbolet. in all likelihood. Rendsburg contended that ‘there is no reason not to assume’ that the root *†bl underlies the Biblical Hebrew noun sibbolet = ‘stream. a doctored back-formation from the Hebrew sibbolet (Marcus 1942: 39.
in all likelihood.11 On the other hand. reads: lmlkm’wr ¨bd b¨lys¨ (Herr 1985). see Job 24:24. its authenticity may be in doubt. 27–8. 40:14 as Ba¨alis. for sibbolet meaning ‘ear of grain’. in the name of the Ammonite king NaÌas (1 Sam. 14). n. n. 1982: 114). 40:14 might well have been sensitive to the distinct Ammonite pronunciation of /†/. an etymological /s/ is spelled in the Hebrew Bible with the letter s. the final ¨ayin that was preserved in the name of the Ammonite king in the LXX Vorlage (Hendel 1996: 71. 17:27 records the name of an Ammonite Sobî. as a voiceless interdental (Rendsburg 1988a: 257–8. see Sawyer 1975. the element -ys¨ in the name b¨lys¨ reflects the Proto-Semitic root y†¨ = ‘to save’ (Rendsburg 1988a: 257–8. he would not necessarily turn to the Ammonite orthographic con5 . 12 In addition. Moreover. but when he came to render this phoneme in the terms of the 22-letter alphabet available to him. 41:5–7. 20. Yet. Rendsburg excluded it from his discussion (Rendsburg 1988b: 76. Rendsburg adduced another example. the suggestion of Müller about an etymological connection between the root y†¨ and the root yf ¨ = ‘to be high. 1988b: 73–5). and in the plural. 1988b: 73).10 and in Rendsburg’s view. However. the restoration of ¨ in b¨lys[¨] and the reading b[n¨m]n are not certain (Becking 1999: 13–14). in which the Proto-Semitic /†/ is rendered by the letter s in a text originating from Transjordan and by the letter s in a text originating from Cisjordan. son of NaÌas — probably the same NaÌas mentioned elsewhere as the king of Ammon. An Ammonite seal impression discovered at Tell el¨Umeiri. 69:3. Yet.DEVELOPMENTS OF THE PROTO-SEMITIC PHONEME /†∞/ IN IRON AGE To bolster his proposal. n. esp. Robert Deutsch has recently published a stamp seal with the inscription [l]b¨lys[¨] mlk b[n¨m]n (Deutsch 1999). because the etymology of the name Sobî is unclear. Voigt 1997. since this seal has not been discovered in a controlled archaeological excavation. about ten miles southeast of Amman. pace Eph¨al 1974: 111. and dated on paleographic grounds to the early sixth century BCE. etc. in ancient Arabian dialects is not credible (see Voigt 1997: 172–5). 11:1. Walter W.12 Assuming that the original /s/ was articulated in Ammonite the same way as in the Hebrew of Cisjordan (Judah). Gen. exalted’. Rendsburg claimed that the original /†/ must have been retained in Ammonite as a distinct phoneme and articulated in such a way that would be perceived by the inhabitants of Judah as closest to [s] — that is. The author of Jer. italics preserved) is artificial. etc.). 13 Rendsburg’s distinction between ‘the way the Judean writer heard the royal Ammonite name spelled b¨lys¨ ’ and ‘the way the Judean writer pronounced the Ammonite name’ (Rendsburg 1988b: 75. The patron of the owner of this seal is most likely to be identified with the Ammonite king mentioned in Jer.13 Ps. 2 Sam. 15). 11 For the Proto-Semitic root y†¨ and its etymological connection with the Hebrew ys¨ = ‘to save’. Müller adduced more examples of the occurrence of the root y†¨ in ancient North and South Arabian inscriptions and argued convincingly against the assumption of the root *w†¨ as a doublet of y†¨ (Müller 1979. 73. 10 The spelling belisa in the LXX reflects. 16.
is beyond doubt. “stream. torrent’ being derived from the root *†bl is unacceptable. HALOT 1394b). However.” anywhere in Semitic’ (Rendsburg 1988b: 75). First.DEVELOPMENTS OF THE PROTO-SEMITIC PHONEME /†∞/ IN IRON AGE Rendsburg’s conclusion has managed to make its way into recent reference books on comparative Semitic phonology and linguistics (Lipinski 1997: 120. 6 . He could as well try to choose a letter used in Judean Hebrew for rendering the phoneme. 12:5–6.7. 41:6 an actual witness to the Proto-Semitic root *†bl. but both appear only in the collocation swblt’ dnhr’/sebbelta’ denahra’. Despite Rendsburg’s statement that ‘we have no cognates for sblt.17 However. Sokoloff 1990: 539b). Simon B. 14 In a recent introductory survey of Transjordanian Canaanite dialects of the Iron Age. 15 The last edition of the Biblical Hebrew dictionary of Ludwig Koehler and Walter Baumgartner (revised by Johann J. sbl = “rain. and n. sabbalat = ‘well’ (HAL 1296a. with a meaning connected to bodies of water. 8). Rendsburg’s conclusion about the retention of the phoneme /†/ in Ammonite had been reached independently. it appears to be plainly wrong. but based on the same seal impression. §13. flow”’ (Speiser 1942: 11). 16 Of course. sublat = ‘widespread rain’. which may be a calque from the Hebrew sibbolet hannahar in Isa. Stamm) lists the following Arabic nouns having to do with water and derived from the root sbl: sabal = ‘flowing rain’. Rendsburg’s explanation of the orthographical differences in the spellings of sibbolet/sibbolet and b¨lys¨ /Ba¨alis is not the only vention. torrent’ that makes it clear that the first consonant is the Proto-Semitic /s/ rather than the Proto-Semitic /s/ (which would also develop into /s/ in Arabic). since the form *tubla’ is evidently not authentic. considered this root an irregular doublet of the Proto-Semitic sbl. Parker mentioned the retention of /†/ in Ammonite as a possibility. whose articulation would seem to him most similar to that of the Ammonite /†/. already Speiser had recognized that this noun ‘can scarcely be separated from Arab. The logic of choosing the letter s and the phoneme /s/ would then be the same as the logic of non-Arabic speakers trying to imitate the Classical Arabic /†/ with a [s] (above. 27:12 (see HALOT 1395a. Second. but did not offer a definite conclusion (Parker 2002: 47. it is the Hebrew sibbolet = ‘stream. who saw in the Aramaic form *tubla’ in the Jerusalem Targum to Gen. while the existence of the Proto-Semitic root sbl. 17 ‘This points to a Proto-Semitic doublet with † … alongside the normal form with a sibilant.15 The development of the Arabic /s/ from the Proto-Semitic /s/ is normal. Speiser. Rendsburg 1997: 69–70). Knauf and Maáni did not connect their conclusion to the shibboleth story in Judg. n. there is no reason whatsoever to posit irregularities of this kind. Brockelmann 1928: 752b. How such a doublet arose is beside the point’ (Speiser 1942: 12). the idea of the Biblical Hebrew noun sibbolet = ‘stream.16 its development from the Proto-Semitic /†/ would be difficult to account for. 11). The form swblt’ is also attested in Jewish Palestinian Aramaic.14 And yet. and the form sebbelta’ in Syriac. by Knauf and Maáni 1987: 91.
laminal articulation (cf. the solution proposed by Woodhouse. while the back vowel i in the first syllable of the Ephraimite form caused a markedly palatal ([s]-like) articulation of the first consonant in the Ephraimite dialect. or else the phonemes /s/ and /s/ would not be distinguishable. 4). 8). and in the dialects of Cisjordan earlier than in those of Transjordan (Woodhouse 2003. Josef Tropper proposed an explanation for the shibboleth story based on the assumption that the form *subbult or *subbolt was characteristic of the Gileadite dialect. However. they would say *[subbult(u)] (see above. if we consider the reconstructed Iron Age vocalization. in some dialects earlier than in others.g. 19 Or. building on Faber’s theory. Hence. 286). the front vowel u in the first syllable of the Gileadite form caused a markedly alveolar ([s]-like) articulation of the first consonant in the Gileadite dialect. Alice Faber has suggested that the original articulation of the Proto-Semitic phoneme /s/ was a voiceless dental fricative *[s]. the noun sibbolet was normally pronounced by the Ephraimites as [sibbolet]. n. esp.18 Robert Woodhouse. there must have been some difference between the articulation of the phoneme /s/ in Ephraimite and the articulation of the phoneme /s/ in Gileadite in the vicinity of high vowels — perhaps in the terms of apical vs. the Ephraimites. n. a and o).DEVELOPMENTS OF THE PROTO-SEMITIC PHONEME /†∞/ IN IRON AGE plausible one. but when trying to emulate the Gileadite pronunciation — which is the whole point of the shibboleth story — the Ephraimites would say [sibbolet].19 However. which can apply to both the reconstructed original form *subbult(u) and the Masoretic form sibbolet. In Tropper’s view. which is based on an unverifiable assumption about the exact vocalization of the word in question in the Iron Age Hebrew dialects of Ephraim and Gilead. 7 . trying to emulate the pronunciation of the Gileadite form. but when trying to emulate the Gileadite pronunciation. whereas the form *sibbult or *sibbolt was characteristic of the Ephraimite dialect. Woodhouse 2003: 274). but in all Canaanite dialects this development had been preceded by the merger of the Proto-Semitic phoneme /†/ with /s/ (Faber 1992: 8–9). Thus. Thus. pronounced the word in question as *[subbult] or *[subbolt] (Tropper 1997). since the Ephraimites’ phonetic trick did not save their lives (at least in the view of the story’s author). is preferable to the solution proposed by Tropper. proposed that the shift *[s] > [s] in articulation of the phoneme /s/ in Canaanite languages and dialects had occurred in the vicinity of high vowels (i and u) earlier than in the vicinity of non-high vowels (e. the Ephraimites would normally pronounce *[subbult(u)]. 18 The shift from *[s] to [s] in the articulation of the phoneme /s/ in Canaanite languages and dialects must have generally predated the shift from *[ts] to [s] in the articulation of the phoneme /s/ (see above. and its development into a palato-alveolar fricative [s] occurred in Canaanite dialects only during the Iron Age..
the vowel preceding /s/ was i (either long or short). the Hebrew name itself occurs already in the eighth-century BCE Samaria ostraca in the spelling ’lys¨.v. Bergsträsser 1918: §17n). if the letter y in the spellings ’lys¨ and b¨lys¨ stands for a consonant. the development may have been *’ili-yisa¨ (‘my God will save’) > ’elîsa¨ (for contraction of iyi into i. Vulgate and the NT (ibid. by Gutman and Loewenstamm 1950: 358). it must be the first consonant of the root ys¨. since there exists also an alternative spelling smd¨.v. it is very likely that in the name b¨lys¨.DEVELOPMENTS OF THE PROTO-SEMITIC PHONEME /†∞/ IN IRON AGE As for the Ammonite royal name b¨lys¨. Yet. preferring to see -ys¨ as a finite verbal form. which is supported by Greek and Latin transcriptions in the LXX. meaning either ‘to save’ (as a doublet of y†¨ > ys¨) or ‘to be noble’ (see Becking 1993: 22–4). 22 Cf. And finally. JM §76b). and the development of the name ’elisa¨ in the MT is probably to be accounted for as: *’il-yisa¨ (‘god will save’) > ’elisa¨.g.. the form *hawsi¨ > hôsia¨ in the hip¨il stem was probably formed by analogy with the original primae w verbs. Alternatively. On the other hand. For contraction of yi into i in *’il-yisa¨ > ’elîsaa¨. its vocalization is admittedly unclear. 89–90). Sivan 1984: 292.20 If this difficulty is countenanced. 8 . one cannot discount the possibility that in the name b¨lys¨. the Biblical Hebrew name Yesa¨yahû (Gutman and Loewenstamm 1950: 358) and the use of the verb y†¨ in the G-stem in Amorite and Ugaritic personal names (Gelb 1980: 22. the element -ys¨ is a substantive. The development proposed here is preferable to the suggestion that the original vocalization of the name ’lys¨ was *’elyasa¨ (as proposed.21 The name b¨lys¨ in the Ammonite seal would then be vocalized as *Ba¨l-yisa¨ (‘Baal will save’).). s. s. 21 The form *yiysa¨ > *yisa¨ would be natural for the prefix conjugation of the verb y†¨ > ys¨ in the qal stem (cf. Gutman and Loewenstamm 1950: 358. in accordance with Woodhouse’s theory. cf. 1 from Samaria (Renz 1995a. cf.. Aufrecht 1989: 309. The name ’lys¨ appears in Ostracon no. JS¨. 308). since the latter suggestion cannot account for the vowel î in the Masoretic vocalization. It is not clear why Aufrecht. Hence. however. JM §42b). in Zevit’s view. the contrast between the articulation of the 20 Cf. vocalized the whole name as Ba¨lyasu¨ (ibid. Y™¨-). Analogy with the Biblical Hebrew personal name 'elisa¨ suggests the vocalization *Ba¨lisa¨ (Becking 1993: 20). For the use of the verb ys¨ in the qal stem. cf. e. this is the only case of an internal mater lectionis in the Samaria Ostraca (Zevit 1980: 13– 14). in which case the vocalization would probably be *Ba¨l-yis¨ (‘Baal is [the god of ] salvation’). Bergsträsser 1918: §17t. one may consider the element -sa¨ in the names ’elisa¨ and *Ba¨lisa¨ as the suffix-conjugation form or the participle of the verbal root †w¨ > sw¨.22 In any event. and it is difficult to suppose that the letter y functioned at such an early date as a mater lectionis. The pointing of the letter s with qameÒ in the name ’elîsa¨ is probably to be explained as resulting from the understanding of the whole name as a substantive rather than as a verbal sentence (cf. Ziony Zevit mentioned the spelling smyd¨ in the Samaria Ostraca as an example of an internal mater lectionis.
with cuneiform signs that serve in Akkadian for rendering the phoneme /t/.25 but there is also the name of mIt-’a—am-a-ra (= y†¨’mr). For the occurrences of the name ’by†¨ in Northern Arabian inscriptions. see Eph¨al 1982: 228–9. the articulation of the phoneme /s/ in the vicinity of non-high vowels. see Eph¨al 1982: 58 (mAm-me-’a-ta-a’ = ¨my†¨). who. etc.26 And in the sphere of Northwest Semitic dialects.). 25 For these names. the Akkadian version spells the ruler’s name as mAdad∞(U)-it-’i. 113–14 (mA-bi-ia-te-e’ = ’by†¨. did not pay attention to the differences in spelling between Ba¨alîs and NaÌas in the Hebrew Bible. mIa-u-ta-a¨ = yw†¨. The Aramaic version of this inscription consistently spells the etymological /†/ with the letter s. But most importantly. However. one has to mention the bilingual Aramaic-Akkadian inscription from Tell Fekheriye (in the Khabur basin.DEVELOPMENTS OF THE PROTO-SEMITIC PHONEME /†∞/ IN IRON AGE Gileadite and the Cisjordanian /s/ in the vicinity of high vowels would be striking enough for the author of Jer. 19 (Akkadian version). The bulk of the evidence comes from Northern Arabian names. And also by Hendel 1996: 72. if the Masoretic vocalization of this name is to be trusted. 26 This name also appears in the inscriptions of Sargon II in the alternate spelling mIt-[’]a—am-ra (Fuchs 2000: 587). 6. as supposed by Faber and Woodhouse. This evidence comes from cuneiform spellings of West Semitic proper names in Neo-Assyrian documents. in names such as NaÌas. who brought tribute to Sargon II in 715 BCE. dating from the midninth century BCE.27 And also Sobî. It is likely that this ruler is to be identified with the one mentioned in the earliest Sabaic inscriptions as y†¨’mr byn bn s1mh¨ly (Robin 1996: 1118–21). northwestern Mesopotamia). For the Aramaic spelling. For identification of mIt-’a-am-a-ra as a ruler of Saba’ in Southern Arabia. 27 For the cuneiform spelling of the ruler’s name. including the name of the ruler.24 at least by the ninth–eighth centuries BCE. see lines 1. 12 (Aramaic version). on whose behalf the inscription was written: hdys¨y (Kaufman 1982: 146). 23 24 9 .23 would not be significantly different in Cisjordanian and Transjordanian dialects. the Neo-Assyrian scribes spelled the phoneme /†/ in proper names belonging to those languages and dialects. 230 (lúTa-mu-di = Thamud).8. there is in fact positive evidence that the Proto-Semitic phoneme /†/ had merged with the phoneme /s/ in the Canaanite dialects of Transjordan. however. which had retained this phoneme. the ruler of Saba’ in Southern Arabia. leading to its representation in the Hebrew Bible by the letter s (Woodhouse 2003: 286). see Müller 1979: 23–4. However. see KAI5 309. thus pointing out that the consonant marked by s in this name was anything but a dental fricative. As has been recognized long ago. 40:14 to perceive the sibilant in the name b¨lys¨ as closer to /s/ than to /s/ in his Judean dialect.
and perhaps even from the eighth century BCE (Folmer 1995: 74. which can be shown or at least assumed (absent clear indications to the contrary) to belong to the milieu of Canaanite languages and dialects. whose name is spelled in cuneiform sources as mA-úsi-i’ (Tadmor 1994: 140. and cf. Hebrew qam). rather than a whim of an individual scribe. 30 Cf. below. with which the Proto-Semitic /†/ had merged in the best known Canaanite dialects. which include the etymological /†/. pursue it any further. as suggested by Rendsburg.DEVELOPMENTS OF THE PROTO-SEMITIC PHONEME /†∞/ IN IRON AGE Hence. spelled the same way as the West Semitic phoneme /s/. in which the etymological /†/ is spelled with cuneiform /s/-signs and which can be identified on contextual or linguistic grounds as belonging to the Canaanite linguistic milieu. its realization as an actual interdental /†/ appears most likely. but is commonly assumed to have persisted as a separate phoneme in most Aramaic dialects of the period. Streck 1998: 132. stands in contrast with those names appearing in Neo-Assyrian sources. sporadic evidence of the merger of /†/ with /t/ appears already starting from the seventh. For the consistent spelling of the West Semitic /s/ with /s/-signs in NeoAssyrian sources. in Neo-Assyrian sources would enable us to tell whether this phoneme was retained intact in the Canaanite dialects of Transjordan. 10 28 . who did not. see Parpola 1998: xxiv. with the Phoenician shift a > o (cf. Examples of names. which amounts to a full-fledged orthographic convention. 31 The possibility of applying this criterion has been already recognized by Woodhouse 2003: 276. /Â/) to distinguish between Canaanite and Aramaic proper names in cuneiform records of the first millennium BCE. However. the etymological /†/ is spelled with cuneiform signs that serve in Akkadian for rendering the phoneme /s/ — that is. who used the criterion of the cuneiform spelling of etymological Proto-Semitic interdentals (/†/. while the first component is the divine name *¨a†tar > *¨astar (Breckwoldt and Parpola 1998: 138). the voiceless interdental having been actually retained as a distinct phoneme in the Aramaic dialect of Tell Fekheriye.29 The consistency of the spelling of the phoneme /†/ with cuneiform /t/-signs. in Aramaic as well as Arabian names. a resident of Nineveh c.30 Therefore. n. In the latter group of names.28 and as a corollary one has to conclude that in other cases as well. to merge later with the voiceless dental plosive /t/. the second component of whose name is probably the suffix-conjugation form of the verb qwm in the G-stem. where the etymological /†/ is marked by the letter s. 55). however. the indication of /†/ in the Aramaic text by the letter s is nothing more than an orthographic convention. the last king of Israel.31 The full form of the name would be *Hadd—yi†¨i = ‘Hadad is [the god of ] my salvation’. attestation of Transjordanian proper names. line 17’). and mAs-ta—qu-um-me. are Hôsea¨. /∂/. 700 BCE. 29 This situation is comparable to the one pertaining in other Aramaic inscriptions of the Iron Age. Nor did Woodhouse mention the consistency in the Neo-Assyrian use of cuneiform /t/-signs for spelling the phoneme /†/ in Arabian names. such as Phoenician and Cisjordanian Hebrew.
this city must have been included in the territory of the Aramaean kingdom of Damascus (Tadmor 1962: 121. Three objections may be raised against the use of the toponym uru As-tar-tu as evidence for the phonological development of the Proto-Semitic phoneme /†/ in Transjordanian Canaanite dialects of the Iron Age. 601). a city whose conquest by the Assyrians is depicted on a palace relief of Tiglath-Pileser III from Nimrud. the consonant closing the first syllable in the name of this city is the original phoneme /†/. see Tadmor 1994: fig. the peculiar features displayed by toponyms tend to be more conservative than the features For a photograph of the relief. There is no doubt that the name of this city is derived from the name of the Canaanite goddess. 1. with the city’s name spelled out in the relief ’s caption. if the toponym Ashtaroth were recorded in its Aramaic form. which are not characteristic in general of the languages spoken by the inhabitants of the relevant locations. 30. For a drawing. 35 km to the east from the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee (Wafler 1975: 118–19. 33 The spelling ’†trt occasionally given by Day is an error. Wafler 1975: 119. and in the Hebrew Bible as ¨astoret (Day 1992b: 492). 11.100. who rendered this consonant by the cuneiform sign as. in the area of Bashan. 11 32 . And the eighth-century BCE Assyrian scribe.DEVELOPMENTS OF THE PROTO-SEMITIC PHONEME /†∞/ IN IRON AGE One example of such proper name is that of uruAs-tar-tu. n. must have perceived it as a West Semitic /s/ rather than /†/. First. That is. Moreover.107. However. see Day 1992a: 49133).32 This city is commonly identified with the biblical city of Ashtaroth (¨astarot).17.41. However. Second. c. Tadmor 1994: 210). by the time of Tiglath-Pileser III’s campaign against Ashtaroth. and with modern Tell ¨Astara. I. the merger of the Proto-Semitic /†/ with /s/ took place the same way as it did in the Canaanite dialects spoken to the west of the Syro-African rift (Phoenician and Cisjordanian Hebrew). Table 37. it is likely that the city of Ashtaroth in the Bashan is mentioned in a number of Ugaritic documents in the spelling ¨†trt (KTU∞∞2 1. one would expect preservation of the original /†/ or its merger with /t/. see RlA. toponyms as such may display peculiar linguistic features. and it stands to reason that the inhabitants of this city. which appears in Ugaritic texts as ¨†trt. This means that in the area of Ashtaroth. n. The spelling uruAs-tar-tu shows clearly that such was not the case. continued to speak their Canaanite (Transjordanian Hebrew) dialect regardless of the language of their royal sovereign. from whom the Assyrian scribe had most likely heard its name.
the following remark of Zadok: ‘toponyms… often preserve otherwise irretrievable information concerning early — and often extinct — linguistic strata’ (ibid. The simplest answer to this objection is that neither Rendsburg nor any other scholar has ever suggested that the Yarmuk was a kind of dialectal boundary for the Canaanite dialects of Transjordan. which evidently stands for the form *¨astartu. this spelling is valid evidence of the merger of the Proto-Semitic /†/ with /s/. the spelling uruAstar-tu. 12 34 . see below.34 And insofar as Rendsburg’s hypothesis of the retention of the phoneme /†/ in Transjordanian Canaanite dialects is concerned. A good example of this is the preservation of many originally Canaanite and Aramaic toponyms in the modern Arabic dialects of Palestine (see Zadok 1995–7). Third. 35 See above. line 95). whose opinions have been surveyed extensively by Rendsburg in a study dedicated to the identification of the kingdom of mBa-a’-sa (Rendsburg 1991: 57–8). Note.). The name mBa-a’-sa is identical with that of Baasha (Ba¨sa’) king of Israel (1 Kgs 15:16. The problem is that the gentilic kurA-ma-na-a-a in the name of the adversary of Shalmaneser III may be understood as referring to either the kingdom of Ammon or to the area of Mount Amana in the Antilebanon range in southwestern Syria. a city located to the north of the Yarmuk river. Hence. furthermore. if one follows those biblical sources which distinguish between Gilead and Bashan35). 3. But in addition. one of the Levantine kings who faced Shalmaneser III in the battle of Qarqar (853 BCE) according to the Assyrian king’s monolith inscription from Kurkh (Grayson 1996: 23. n. 36 Some Masoretic manuscripts spell the name of the king of Israel as Ba¨sa¨.36 even though the two persons in question were obviously different. it is possible that the phonological development of the Proto-Semitic /†/ in the dialect of Ashtaroth.. there is possibly an actual example of a proper name which shows the merger of the Proto-Semitic /†/ with /s/ in Ammonite in the ninth century BCE. etc. In that study. is innovative rather than conservative.DEVELOPMENTS OF THE PROTO-SEMITIC PHONEME /†∞/ IN IRON AGE of everyday language in relevant locations. at least in the dialect of Ashtaroth by c. The relevant proper name is that of mBa-a’-sa mar (DUMU) RuÌu-bi kurA-ma-na-a-a. 95). Both interpretations were espoused by different scholars. was different from the development of the same phoneme in Transjordanian dialects that were spoken south of the Yarmuk river. in the territory of Ammon and in the bulk of the territory of Gilead (or in the whole of Gilead. 730 BCE.
has been recently collated by Rykle Borger to read uruBit (É)!.m!Bu-na-ku (Borger 1996: 49. the example of uruBu-na-ku. line 12). in a geographical list from the reign of Assurbanipal in the spelling uruAm-ma-a-[na] (Rendsburg 1991: 59. and see Eph¨al 1982: 149–50. which appears in the Mara≥ inscription of the king Qalparu(n)da/Îalparuntiyas III of Gurgum (southeastern Anatolia) as the name of both the king’s father and the much earlier 13 37 . although the editors show some ambiguity regarding the understanding of this toponym and mention it elsewhere as referring to the city of Amman. as noted by Rendsburg. it is possible that RuÌubu was either the biological father of the king who opposed Shalmaneser III or the founder of the dynasty which ruled the kingdom of Ammon at that period. The most recent edition of this geographical list upholds the restoration uruAmma-a-[na] and the translation ‘Ammo[n]’ (Fales and Postgate 1995: 4. n. the northern kingdom of Israel). uruÎa-ban and uruÎa-am-ban (see Parpola 1970: 147). Yet. the mention of mQa-al-paru-da? mar (A) mPa-la-lam sar (MAN) uruGúr-gu-ma-a-a in the Pazarcık stele of Adad-nerari III (Grayson 1996: 205. Thus. citing Parpola 1970: 16). F IV 10). Rendsburg’s answers to these objections require correction and further detailization. line 143). cf. Thus. Grayson 1996: 213. the fact that the country Bit-Îamban. in the Zagros mountains. which would demonstrate the possibility of omission of the initial element bit (Rendsburg 1991: 59). against the argument that the regular Neo-Assyrian designation of Ammon is Bit-Ammana (cf. Regarding the designation mar Ru-Ìu-bi. even if the city determinative URU signifies that the royal city of Ammon rather than the whole country was intended. as are the designations uruBit-mAm-ma-ni. n. cited by Rendsburg from Parpola 1970: 91 and coming from the Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III discovered in Calah. adjacent to Mount Amana (cf. the name of Ammon itself appears. although that element is transposed before the country determinative KUR: É.. Cogan 1984: 259). also attested in Neo-Assyrian sources (Parpola 1970: 16. 514). uruBit-Am-ma-na and uru Bit-Am-ma-na-a-a. the spelling uruAm-ma-a-[na] offers direct evidence of the possibility of omission of the element bit in a Neo-Assyrian reference to Ammon. coming from the Prism F recension of the royal annals of Assurbanipal (668–27 BCE). line 12).. Rendsburg noted the examples of the toponyms Bit-Bunakki and Bit-Zamani spelled once as uruBu-na-ku and kur Za-ma-a-ni. in an inscription of Adadnerari III (810–783 BCE). Yet. which appears once.DEVELOPMENTS OF THE PROTO-SEMITIC PHONEME /†∞/ IN IRON AGE Rendsburg supported the identification of mBa-a’-sa as a king of Ammon. interpreted by some scholars as referring to the Aramean dynasty and kingdom of Beth-Rehob in the Beqa¨ of Lebanon. Cogan 1984: 259). was mentioned a number of times in Neo-Assyrian royal inscriptions as kurÎa-ban. as kurÎu-um-ri-i (Parpola 1970: 83. But more importantly. answering the objections that had been raised against this identification37 and bringing two positive arguments to support it. biblical Rabbâ or Rabbat benê ¨ammôn (ibid. 19. II. Rendsburg noted that ‘it is a moot issue whether Ru-Ìu-bi is to be taken as a toponym… or as an anthroponym’ (Rendsburg 1991: 59). However. the designation uruAm-ma-a-[na] is obviously derived from the name of the country of Ammon. Likewise. does actually involve the element bit (É). col. In fact. demonstrates that omission of the element bit was indeed possible. On the other hand. 179). The cuneiform mPa-la-lam evidently corresponds to the Hieroglyphic Luwian ILa+ra/i+a-ma-. lines 17–18). the example of kurZa-ma-a-ni.kurZama-a-ni (Grayson 1996: 69. in all likelihood. Another noteworthy example of this kind is the toponym Bit-Îumrî = ‘the house of Omri’ (i.e.
in the light of the cuneiform spelling mBa-a’-sa. In any event. in his opinion. the name is actually spelt b¨s’. however. for cuneiform spelling of the etymological /†/ in Ammonite proper names in Neo-Assyrian documents. the distribution of the name Ba¨sa’ in Northwest Semitic sources is limited to the Canaanite branch of languages. ‘Gindibu’ the Arabian’. mentioned this name as an evidence of the etymological /s/ in Ammonite being rendered in Neo-Assyrian records by a cuneiform /s/-sign.39 Rendsburg’s arguments are attractive but not quite convincing. In the first of these occurrences. In any event. the king of Arpad (northwestern Syria) appears as mA-tar-súm-ki mar (A) mAbi(AD)-ra-a-me uruÁr-pa-da-a-a (Grayson 1996: 205. 252– 3). the geographic proximity and the cultural connection between the Iron Age Ammon and Arabian-populated areas in the Syro-Arabian desert account well for the mention of mBa-a’-sa right after mGi-in-di-bu-u' kurAr-ba-a-a. which are beyond the scope of this article (cf. in the same Pazarcık stele of Adad-nerari III.38 And second. etc. the name Ba¨sa’ appears in two Neo-Punic inscriptions (KAI5 145. it is unlikely that the element ba¨. the father of Abi-ramu (Mattila and Radner 1998: 12–13. to the exclusion of Aramaic (and Ugaritic. 14 . of course. or what considerations moved him to consider the consonant s in the name Ba¨sa’ to be a reflection of the etymological /s/. Loewenstamm and Ran Zadok.in Ba¨sa’ is a shortened form of the divine name or epithet Ba¨l. Luukko 1998: 56). Abi-ramu was the father of Attar-sumki but not the founder of the royal dynasty of Arpad. 5). n.DEVELOPMENTS OF THE PROTO-SEMITIC PHONEME /†∞/ IN IRON AGE First. 13. for that matter). Zadok 1988: 62. and hence allegedly distinct from the etymological /†/ (Rendsburg 1988b: 74). raised the same point concerning the personal name Ba¨ana’ (1 Kgs 4:12. the etymology of the personal name Ba¨sa’/mBa-a’-sa deserves a special consideration. while it is not clear why a ruler of the presumably Aramaean area of Mount Amana would be mentioned in this position (Rendsburg 1991: 58–61). and cf.. 40 Rendsburg. line 11). 41 Loewenstamm 1954: 304. this spelling evidently results from phonological developments in Neo-Punic. 39 The notion of cultural connection between the Iron Age Ammon and the Syro-Arabian desert is based on the Ammonite material culture and on Arabian elements in the onomasticon of Ammonite inscriptions.2). 166. there is no necessity to understand the designation mBa-a’-sa mar Ru-Ìu-bi kurA-mana-a-a as referring to the territory of Mount Amana or to the kingdom/dynasty of Beth-Rehob.40 As pointed out by Samuel E. the second consonant founder of the local royal dynasty (Hawkins 2000: I/1. in an Ammonite ostracon from Heshbon dating to c.37. in alphabetic spelling. 38 The’ in b¨s[’] is. ibid. Rendsburg 1988b: 76. Beside the Hebrew Bible and the Heshbon ostracon. Also. 262–3. the name b¨s[’] appears. Regrettably.41 Moreover. but one that appears very likely. in the list of the kings who opposed Shalmaneser III. Rendsburg did not specify what evidence exists. Yet. that honour belonged to (A)gusu.). in his study of the putative retention of the phoneme /†/ in Ammonite. a restoration. n. 600 BCE but does not appear so far in Aramaic sources from southwestern Syria or elsewhere.
(or bi-). appearing in Neo-Assyrian spellings of West Semitic proper names. in principle. The spelling b¨s in some Jewish Palestinian Aramaic sources is. sick’ (Sokoloff 1990: 83b).44 This.. 47 Cf. 44 It should be noted that the name Ba¨aseyah is somewhat suspect. also features uniformly the spelling Ba¨sa’. 6:25). Hence. written. Ginsburg 1926c: 764.46 And second. ad 1 Chron. it is not clear whether the element ba. the Peshitta and a few Masoretic manuscripts support the reading Ma¨aseyah (see BHS ad 1 Chron. 46 This spelling is attested. is also problematic. 6:25a. mA-Ìa-ab-bu kurSir-’a-la-a-a = ‘Ahab the Israelite (Biblical Hebrew Yisre’elî)’ (Grayson 1996: 23. 1998.DEVELOPMENTS OF THE PROTO-SEMITIC PHONEME /†∞/ IN IRON AGE of the name Ba¨sa’ must be a reflection of the original /¨/ rather than /g/. in the two manuscripts considered the most reliable witnesses of the Tiberian Masoretic text: the Aleppo Codex and the Leningrad Codex B19a.47 42 Zadok 1988: 62. but those are few and relatively late. ad 2 Chron. represents a shortened form of the noun ‘son’. 15 . 16:1). dating from the thirteenth–fifteenth centuries CE (see Ginsburg 1926a: 329. the version Ba¨aseyah is probably more original. Lowinger 1971. 35:4. Likewise. n. 41:9. regarding the cuneiform spelling mBa-a’-sa. total 16 occurrences) or Ma¨aseyahû (Jer. 43 Reports about Arabic words derived from the root b¨s (which would correspond to Proto-Semitic *b¨s) are doubtful (Cohen 1976: 75b). 1926c: 855. 45 The cuneiform spelling mBa-a’-sa may denote. by Moses ben Asher in 895 CE. total 7 occurrences). according to its colophon. however. the phoneme /s/ at the beginning of the last syllable — cf. pace Zadok 1977: 108.42 And yet.43 The solution tentatively proposed by Zadok was to see Ba¨sa’ as a hypocoristic form of the personal name Ba¨aseyah (1 Chron. 1926b: 182. The above-mentioned manuscripts have been checked independently by the present author through the facsimile editions of Goshen-Gottstein 1976. with the assumption that the element ba. in the Kurkh inscription of Shalmaneser III. in all likelihood.. Zadok’s suggestion implies that the name in the Hebrew Bible should be read Ba¨sa’ rather than Ba¨sa’. 21:1. Codex Vaticanus and the Lucianic recension of the LXX. who nevertheless ventured to suggest that the name Ba¨sa’ is derived from the root bgs (Arabic bagsa = ‘light rain shower’) — evidently because there is no possibility of derivation from the unattested root *b¨s or *b¨s. This point was recognized by Lipinski 1999: 275. a corruption of b’s = ‘to be bad. The mainstream Masoretic spelling is clearly Ba¨sa’. etc.in both names is a shortened form of ben = ‘son’ (Zadok 1988: 59).. there is no definite attestation of the root *b¨s in Semitic languages. since in its sole attestation in the Hebrew Bible. Yet. lines 91–2). the Cairo Codex of Prophets. 13. ad 1 Kgs 15:16. it is likely that the latter versions were influenced by the far more common personal name Ma¨aseyah (Jer. etc. ad Jer. among other sources. Freedman et al.45 The reading Ba¨sa’ (or Ba¨asa’) is attested in a number of medieval Masoretic manuscripts. First. 6:25). Streck 1999: 343.
that Ryckmans 1934: I.49 The final -a’ in the name Ba¨sa’ is evidently the suffix common for hypocoristic names in Northwest Semitic languages (see Zadok 1988: 154–6). 54. ‘By ¨a†tar’. even if the above interpretation be disputed. However. 49 Attested for a number of personalities (see Caskel 1966: II. Harding 1971: 109–10. attested in the Syriac dialect of Aramaic in the causative stem with the meaning ‘to rouse someone up’.48 and in the work of the late eighth-century CE Arab historian and genealogist Hisam ibn MuÌammad al-Kalbi: Ba¨ i†. with the meaning ‘to send’. it must then also reflect the same merger — which can only mean that the name of the adversary of Shalmaneser III is Canaanite rather than Aramaic. is probably derived from the Proto-Semitic b¨†. to excite’ (Lane 1863–93: 222c–23c). b¨†m. the spelling uruAs-tar-tu in the relief caption of Tiglath-Pileser III proves with reasonable certainty that at least in the northernmost part of Transjordan. Note. The verb b¨t. Personal names derived from the root b¨† are attested in Epigraphic North and South Arabian (LiÌyanite and Sabaic): b¨†. which is attested in free use in Classical Arabic. it seems better to derive the name Ba¨sa’ from the Proto-Semitic root b¨†. to withdraw’. And as a corollary. but also ‘to rouse. It is also likely that the Akkadian verb besu = ‘to go away. 221). the merger of the Proto-Semitic /†/ with /s/ took place in a local Canaanite dialect the same way as it did in the Canaanite dialects of Cisjordan. And since the cuneiform spelling m Ba-a’-sa renders the opening consonant of the last syllable as the West Semitic /s/ rather than /†/. derives from the Proto-Semitic b¨† (Cohen 1976: 75b). If the interpretation proposed here is correct. with the expected merger of the original /†/ with /t/ (Brockelmann 1928: 85b). 220 interprets the name b¨†t as an apocopated form of b¨†tr. this interpretation would also support the notion that the Proto-Semitic /†/ had merged with /s/ in Ammonite at least by the ninth century BCE. And given the unsubstantiated nature of Rendsburg’s arguments for the retention of the Proto-Semitic /†/ in the Canaanite dialects of Gilead and Ammon.DEVELOPMENTS OF THE PROTO-SEMITIC PHONEME /†∞/ IN IRON AGE Therefore. the interpretation of the name Ba¨sa’/mBa-a’-sa as derived from the Proto-Semitic root b¨† would further tip the scales in favour of identifying mBa-a’-sa mar Ru-Ìu-bi kurA-ma-na-a-a as the ruler of the Canaanitespeaking Ammon rather than of the Aramaic-speaking area of Mount Amana. b¨†t. then it has to be concluded that the name Ba¨sa’ in the Hebrew Bible reflects the merger of the original /†/ with /s/. 16 . Hence. his proposal in this 48 Ryckmans 1934: I. however.
Rendsburg’s allusion to ‘Israelian Hebrew’ does not indicate whether a given linguistic feature was thought by him to be characteristic of the Hebrew of northern Cisjordan or of Transjordan. Technically. the Proto-Semitic /†/ had merged with /t/ rather than with /s/. by Rabin 1973: 27.. which would have had a significant number of shared linguistic features (isoglosses) with Aramaic (Rendsburg 2003). which emerged after the partition of the Davidic-Solomonic kingdom and which had initially included northern Cisjordan (to the north of Judah) and Transjordan (Rendsburg 1990: 4). II The second alleged phonological development of the Proto-Semitic phoneme /†/ in Iron Age Canaanite dialects to be discussed in this article has also been proposed by Rendsburg. just as it did in Aramaic (Rendsburg 1990: 64). However. the term ‘Israelian Hebrew’ is too inclusive to be adopted in a discussion that centres on the possibility of different developments of the ProtoSemitic /†/ in the Hebrew dialects of northern Cisjordan and of Transjordan.50 Like the proposal about the retention of the phoneme /†/ in Transjordanian Canaanite dialects. in a more recent discussion Rendsburg has introduced a significant reservation into this theory. the theory of the merger of /†/ with /t/ in northern Cisjordanian Hebrew was not original with Rendsburg. In his monograph on northern (‘Israelian’) Hebrew linguistic features in the book of Psalms.52 The term ‘Israelian’ refers to the kingdom of Israel. 51 It had been proposed before. Rendsburg suggested that in the Hebrew dialect of northern Cisjordan. The main line with which Rendsburg countered such claims was to suggest that the supposedly Aramaic linguistic features are not at all Aramaic but rather belonged to the northern dialect of Hebrew. which can be fully appreciated only after the background of the relevant discussion is taken into consideration.g. since elsewhere Rendsburg has suggested that the phoneme /†/ was retained in Transjordanian Hebrew. In any event. the proposal of its merger with /t/ must perforce apply to the Hebrew of northern Cisjordan. in which it is discovered.51 However. 52 This is not the place to review in detail Rendsburg’s general methodology in reconstructing linguistic features of northern Hebrew (which has been most fully 17 50 . e. The discussion in question centered on the issue of those linguistic features in the Hebrew Bible which had been defined by different scholars as resulting from the influence of Aramaic on Hebrew — influence that is often claimed to be symptomatic of a late date of composition of the Hebrew texts.DEVELOPMENTS OF THE PROTO-SEMITIC PHONEME /†∞/ IN IRON AGE regard is unacceptable regardless of the interpretation of the name and the domain of rule of mBa-a’-sa mar Ru-Ìu-bi kurA-ma-na-a-a.
which can be aptly characterized as creating dialects from maps. The more nuanced exposed in Rendsburg 1990: 3–17). however. This time. Rendsburg suggested also a different way to account for the spelling yetannu in Judg. n. Waltisberg saw this form as evidence of Aramaic influence on the language of the Song of Deborah. some scholars suggested that it derives from the root y†¨ > yt¨ = ‘to save’ (see.).24) has been disputed by Garr 1985: 29. Fredericks 1996. 65).. king of Arpad (KAI5 222A. Rendsburg noted that the Song of Deborah was evidently composed in the northern part of Cisjordan and evoked once again the possibility of the merger of the Proto-Semitic /†/ with /t/ in the northern dialect of Hebrew (Rendsburg 2003: 122–4). has been already criticized enough to make any further discussion superfluous (see Pardee 1992. This approach. but derivation from the root mt¨ = ‘to benefit. 53 Waltisberg 1999.54 Since this verbal form is evidently derived from the Proto-Semitic root †ny and exhibits the merger of the original /†/ with /t/. etc. that the main reason for Rendsburg to consider a given linguistic feature in the Hebrew Bible as characteristic of northern Hebrew was the attestation of that feature in Northwest Semitic languages that were spoken and written in areas adjacent to the territory of Israelite settlement in northern Cisjordan and in Transjordan: Phoenician. 23). 22). Aramaic. Gibson 1975: 34. with which Rendsburg took issue. was a study by Michael Waltisberg on the Song of Deborah (Judges 5). Millard 1983: 104). 297. however. there are possible cases of spelling of the etymological /†/ with the letter t. as in Aramaic. since the 22-letter alphabet did not have a separate letter for denoting this phoneme (Rendsburg 2003: 124. As will be argued below (n. The reading yrt = ‘he will inherit’ (KAI5 222C. And since the spelling of the etymological /†/ with the letter t is not attested in Aramaic sources prior to the seventh century BCE. but none of these cases is clear enough. 5:11. 55 It has to be noted that in the Aramaic treaty inscriptions from Sefire. Zevit.. and a better translation is ‘they will tell. 119. Waltisberg concluded that the form yetannu testifies to the Song of Deborah having been composed not earlier than the seventh century BCE (Waltisberg 1999: 221–2. (KAI5 222–4). 229).g.DEVELOPMENTS OF THE PROTO-SEMITIC PHONEME /†∞/ IN IRON AGE Among the studies claiming for a late dating of various biblical sources.1. e.55 In response to Waltisberg’s argument. Ammonite. this translation is problematic. etc. the phoneme /†/ was still retained in the Hebrew dialect of northern Cisjordan and denoted by the letter t as an orthographic convention.53 and one of the arguments used by Waltisberg to support a late dating of that song was the form yetannu = ‘they will praise’ in Judg. to enjoy’ is more likely (see Zadok 1977: 109. Young 1997. narrate’. Regarding the name of mt¨’l. that at the time of composition of the Song of Deborah. It has to be noted. 5:11 — viz. dating from the mid-eighth century BCE. Schniedewind and Sivan 1996–7: 305–13). 54 The translation ‘to praise’ (‘besingen’) is the one given by Waltisberg 1999: 219. 3. 18 . n. 1992.
context. who suggested that the Song of Deborah was composed in Hasmonean Judah!). 4:5–6). Diebner 1995: 123–4.57 On the other hand.DEVELOPMENTS OF THE PROTO-SEMITIC PHONEME /†∞/ IN IRON AGE view. Rendsburg 2003: 124. the Iron Age Hebrew inscriptions from northern Cisjordan. 111–12. see Sparks 1998. and to a hesitation to postulate the merger of /†/ with /t/ in northern Hebrew centuries earlier than it can be postulated for Aramaic (although such an early merger of /†/ with /t/ in northern Hebrew was finally admitted by Rendsburg as an option). was due to his perception of this song as one of the earliest pieces of Biblical Hebrew poetry. by their correspondence to the epigraphic evidence. are associated in Judg. on linguistic. 58 Rendsburg’s failure to utilize the epigraphic evidence and his tendency to raise proposals. Thus. the precise geographical context of the song is by no means clear. but are — at least in principle — always open to doubt. although frustratingly few in number. has been already criticized by Pardee 1992: 704. literary and historical grounds. and all the more so if an actual merger of the phoneme /†/ with /t/ had taken place in that dialect. but the prose account of the activities of Deborah and Barak locates the former in the hill country of Ephraim and the latter in the town Kedesh of the tribe of Naphtali (Judg. and indeed also geographical. 57 56 19 . if there existed an orthographic convention in northern Cisjordan which rendered the still surviving phoneme /†/ in the local dialect of Hebrew with the letter t. but has been disputed. 5:15 with the tribe of Issachar. However. and the supposedly northern dialectal features in the Hebrew Bible are to be judged. which are directly contradicted by this evidence. Hence. expressed by Rendsburg in his discussion of the Song of Deborah. so that any claim about the date and the geographical provenance of a given biblical source rests necessarily on conjecture. Levin 2003: 124–41). n. the song’s main protagonists. 1100 BCE. have been for the most part found in known localities and in archaeological contexts securely dated to within quite a narrow range of time. the extremely early dating adopted by Rendsburg was generally agreed upon in twentieth-century biblical scholarship. and the earlier literature cited there. one of the first principles in the study of biblical literature is the recognition that this literature has reached us detached completely from its original historical. Thus. 22. these inscriptions should be utilized as primary sources in any attempt to reconstruct the linguistic features of northern Cisjordanian Hebrew in the Iron Age. The notion that the Song of Deborah was composed in northern Cisjordan has been accepted almost universally (but cf. wherever possible. dating from c. Such conjectures may be more or less founded. Seow 1993: 335.56 However. by a number of scholars in the last generation (in addition to Waltisberg’s study. Deborah and Barak.58 Now. concerning the Song of Deborah.
the Proto-Semitic /†/ had merged in the Hebrew dialect of northern Cisjordan with /s/. 800 BCE found at Kuntillet ¨Ajrud — a site which.DEVELOPMENTS OF THE PROTO-SEMITIC PHONEME /†∞/ IN IRON AGE one would expect the Hebrew inscriptions from northern Cisjordan to render the etymological /†/ with the letter t. one should mention the spelling of the name of Hosea (Hosea¨). For derivation of the relative pronoun ’aser from the Proto-Semitic root ’†r. 21. which is commonly understood as the relative pronoun (Biblical Hebrew ’aser). was probably inhabited by people who came from northern Cisjordan (Meshel 1992: 108–9). 20 59 . In the eighth-century BCE inscriptions from Samaria. the last king of the northern kingdom of Israel (2 Kgs 15:30. however. is evidently to be translated ‘the jar of the gate’. who understands this word as referring to a goddess (Ugaritic a†rt). sg. which means that the letter s is used here as well to render the Proto-Semitic /†/ (Eph¨al and Naveh 1993). 2. No inscription from northern Cisjordan or from Kuntillet ¨Ajrud renders the etymological /†/ with the letter t. whose name derives. n. 61 For the vowel ô in the form Hôsea¨. see JM §38. In addition to the Hebrew epigraphic evidence. The evidence for the spelling of the etymological /†/ with the letter s in the inscriptions from Kuntillet ¨Ajrud consists of the relative pronoun ’sr (here the reading and the interpretation are certain) and of the noun ’srth (with the 3 m. regardless of whether this noun refers to the goddess Asherah or to a cultic object. etc. Emerton 1999. see Renz 1995b: 91–3. 60 Renz 1995a: 61–4. Rendsburg’s proposal concerning the merger of the Proto-Semitic /†/ with /t/ in the Hebrew dialect Renz 1995a: 89–90. line 17’).59 The same orthographic norm persists in the inscriptions dating from c. n. For discussion of the word ’srth. In the light of the above evidence. from the name of the goddess Asherah (and must therefore include an etymological /†/). who prefers to interpret this word as referring to a cultic symbol. The names ’lys¨ and ywys¨ include an element derived from the root y†¨ > ys¨. 139. 730 BCE. the eighth-century BCE inscription from Tell el¨Oreme.). the etymological /†/ is rendered uniformly by the letter s: in the personal names ’lys¨ and ywys¨ in the Samaria Ostraca. Yet.60 And finally. in a cuneiform inscription of Tiglath-Pileser III: mA-u-si-i’ (Tadmor 1994: 140. possessive pronominal suffix). such is not the case.61 the Assyrian spelling with the cuneiform sign si proves that by c. 135. and probably also in the word ’sr in a fragment of monumental inscription. above. which reads kd hs¨r. cf. on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee. Since this name derives from the root y†¨ > ys¨. and cf. although located in eastern Sinai.
62 For the area of Israelite settlement in northern Cisjordan. was spelled in the verbal form yetannu in Judg. 64 Compare the situation in the Quebec dialect of French. The only exception is the Aramaic dialect of Tell Fekheriye. which did not exist in their own dialect. given the fact that the only Northwest Semitic dialects of the Iron Age which had certainly retained. adjacent to the territory of Phoenician city-states on the Mediterranean coast. one should expect the phoneme /†/. still retained at that time in that dialect. the phoneme /†/ — namely. In such case. And if they borrowed the verb in question into their own dialect. However. hearing from their Aramaic interlocutors the verbal form *ye†annu. for the most part. after all. 5:11 is an example of Aramaic influence on the language of the Song of Deborah appears the most reasonable solution. the existence of such a convention can be hardly expected.63 would have encountered the consonant [†]. 5:11 with the letter t as an orthographic convention. Thus. evidently under the influence of Phoenician. but there the spelling of the phoneme /†/ with the letter s was probably due to the influence of the Assyrian dialect of Akkadian. 24). It is. even if it were retained for some time in the local Hebrew dialect.64 Thus. in Akkadian † had become s.DEVELOPMENTS OF THE PROTO-SEMITIC PHONEME /†∞/ IN IRON AGE of northern Cisjordan is untenable. in the late second millennium BCE. 1100 BCE. Waltisberg’s claim that the form yetannu in Judg. However. 63 The precise vocalization is unimportant for the issue considered here. in principle. and the phoneme /†/. to be spelled with the letter s. the voiceless dental plosive /t/ could be a valid option. where the voiced and 62 21 . quite possible that the merger of the original phoneme /†/ with /s/ in the Hebrew dialect of northern Cisjordan took place already in the beginning of the Iron Age. such influence need not have taken place in the seventh century BCE at the earliest. that the Hebrew inscriptions of c. the northern Israelites. they would have to render this consonant by some phoneme existing in their dialect. but this merger had not yet taken place in the Hebrew dialect of northern Cisjordan at c. the Aramaic dialects — spell this phoneme almost uniformly with the letter s. which would seem to them closest to the Aramaic original. On the other hand. n. but this later became (or always was) s in Assyrian as evidenced by alphabetic transcriptions and loanwords’ (Kaufman 1982: 147. In such case. where the merger of /†/ with /s/ was one of the factors that led to the emergence of the 22-letter alphabet (Kaufman 1982: 147). it could be argued. 800 BCE and later reflect the merger of the Proto-Semitic /†/ with /s/. the transition from Aramaic *ye†annu to ‘Of course.
Tal 2000: 956b–57a). but the latter meaning is probably denominative. with this meaning.DEVELOPMENTS OF THE PROTO-SEMITIC PHONEME /†∞/ IN IRON AGE Hebrew yetannu need not presuppose the merger of /†/ with /t/ in Aramaic. the heavens will be telling about the righteous thing. derived from the Proto-Semitic sny [for which see BDB.66 Historical considerations the voiceless th (that is. into Hebrew. which the Holy One. is used in Biblical Hebrew. from misnâ — literally. In any event.65 Given the probably northern Cisjordanian origin of the Song of Deborah. Sokoloff 1990: 585b. On the other hand. 1597b–98b]). and the fact that the northernmost part of northern Cisjordan was adjacent to the Aramaic-speaking area of southwestern Syria. did to his world’ (the Biblical Hebrew original employs the form wayyaggîdû = ‘they tell’). to narrate’. the meaning ‘to tell. claimed by Waltisberg to be indicative 22 . 65 The reason for borrowing the Aramaic verb †ny into Iron Age Hebrew can only be conjectured. on Ps.) Support for the above hypothesis comes from the fact that in Rabbinic Hebrew. for the mournful context of the inf. with the meaning ‘to repeat. that the meaning ‘to tell. respectively (Paradis and Lebel 1994: 85). In Rabbinic Hebrew. 54]. n. 11:40. but such a usage would have no parallel in either Aramaic or Hebrew. the verb snh. Now. but in Syriac also in the pe¨al (Brockelmann 1928: 828b–29a. cstr. but also a term for traditional rabbinic law or statement (see Jastrow 1903: 1605a–b). the verb tny is used with this meaning in Aramaic. HALOT. generally in the pa¨el stem. above. 66 The only Aramaism. available for the Aramaic verb †ny (later tny). An especially apt parallel to the meaning suggested here for Judg. in both the qal and the pi¨el stems. 5:11. better than the meaning ‘to repeat’. 50:6: l¨tyd lb’ smym mtnym Òdqh s¨sh hqb“h ¨m ¨wlmw = ‘In the future-to-come. to narrate’. to narrate’ fits the verbal form yetannû in Judg. to narrate’. and the same can be said of almost all other cases adduced by Waltisberg as Aramaisms in the Song of Deborah. but not for the Hebrew verb snh. the verb snh is used with the meaning ‘to repeat. facilitated the borrowing of the Aramaic verb. However. (Some scholars translate yetannû in Judg. to do once again’ (BDB. [d] and [q]) in English loanwords are realized as [d] and [t]. would depend on the specific event narrated. cf. to narrate’ (applying to any possible topic of narration). letannôt in Judg. the verb tnh — but not snh! — is used with the generic meaning ‘to tell. the lexeme with this meaning must be distinguished from the lexeme snh = ‘to change’. Whether a particular occurrence of this verb would refer to a joyous or to a mournful narration. in the qal stem. Moore 1895: 303–4. in the pi¨el stem (see Jastrow 1903: 1681a). chapter 6. It would be reasonable to suppose. Since phonological analysis supports the identification of the Hebrew verb tnh as a loan from Aramaic. 1039b–40a. a borrowing of the verb †ny from Aramaic into the local dialect of Hebrew could have taken place throughout the Iron Age. 5:11 comes from the homily in Bereshit Rabbah. 1040b. HALOT. it should be noted that the normal Hebrew reflex of the Proto-Semitic †ny. in the pi¨el stem and with the direct object Òidqôt YHWH = ‘the righteous acts of YHWH’. to do once again’. ‘repetition’. 1598b–99a. and in the qal stem it is also used with the meaning ‘to study/teach a traditional source’. beside yetannû. blessed be he. 5:11 as ‘to praise’ [cf. Sokoloff 2002: 1221a. neither Biblical nor Rabbinic Hebrew uses the verb snh with the generic meaning ‘to tell. then. it would be better to understand it with the meaning ‘to tell.
Rendsburg’s proposal about the merger of the original /†/ with /t/ in the Hebrew dialect of northern Cisjordan is untenable in view of Hebrew inscriptions and of cuneiform evidence (the spelling mA-u-sii’ for the name of Hosea king of Israel). 10:1). is the use of the pattern qV†al (+ -im) in plural formations of monosyllabic nouns derived from roots mediae geminatae: ¨amamêka (Judg. In this regard. *sib† (Masoretic sebe†) > seba†im (Waltisberg 1999: 220). III To sum up. both the Iron Age date and the Judean provenance (which undermines the claim that the plural formations in question were a specifically northern dialectal trait) of the relevant fragments from Deuteronomy and First Isaiah may be doubted. such as *malk (Masoretic melek) > melakim. 229). 8:9). 23 . Ìiqeqê (Judg.DEVELOPMENTS OF THE PROTO-SEMITIC PHONEME /†∞/ IN IRON AGE might narrow the scope of what can be considered a reasonable range of dates for Aramaic influence on northern Cisjordanian Hebrew. the pattern qV†al (+ -im) is regular in Hebrew for plural formations of monosyllabic (segholate) nouns derived from regular triconsonantal roots. in Aramaic such plural formations of this group of nouns are not attested before the fifth century BCE (Waltisberg 1999: 220–1. it is not clear whether the plural formations in question resulted indeed from Aramaic linguistic influence. which are commonly assumed by scholars to date from the eighth–seventh centuries BCE and to have been composed in Judah: hararêha (Deut. the traditional Semiticist view of the merger of /†/ with /s/ as of a particular terminus post quem for the composition of the Song of Deborah. 5:14). It would be only reasonable that plural formations of monosyllabic nouns derived from regular triconsonantal roots would occasionally influence the plural formations of much less common monosyllabic nouns derived from roots mediae geminatae. the possibility that the phoneme /†/ was retained in the Hebrew dialect of northern Cisjordan at c. but clear evidence for a late dating of these fragments would be needed before one could confidently treat the plural formations of the kind discussed above as Aramaisms. However. it is important to note that similar plural formations of monosyllabic nouns derived from roots mediae geminatae are attested in biblical sources. and is in fact contradicted by explicit evidence of cuneiform spellings (uruAstar-tu and likely also mBa-a’-sa. 1100 BCE and rendered in spelling by the letter t is also unlikely. Thus. if the interpretation of the latter name as derived from the Proto-Semitic root b¨† is correct). As Waltisberg himself admitted. Of course. but such considerations fall outside the scope of the present article. 5:15). As Waltisberg pointed out. Rendsburg’s claim that the Proto-Semitic phoneme /†/ was retained in the Canaanite dialects of Transjordan in the Iron Age is based on a faulty handling of selected evidence (the shibboleth story and the name of the Ammonite king b¨lys¨/Ba¨alis). Ìiqeqê (Isa.
and S. ‘Seal of Ba¨alis Surfaces: Ammonite King Plotted Murder of a Judahite Governor’. 1999.C. ‘On Polyphony in Biblical Hebrew’. Dictionnaire des raciness semitiques ou attestees dans les langues semitiques. 1985. Parpola 1998.A. Brockelmann 1908: 133. BAR 25:2.-J. and W. (Lepizig) BDB = Brown. Rudolph. Teil: Einleitung. W. ‘Wann sang Deborah ihr Lied? Uberlegungen zu zwei der altesten Texte des TNK (Ri 4 und 5)’. 1908. e. JAOS 94. F. (Stuttgart) Blau. I. J. B. Caquot. Mathias Delcor (AOAT 215. ‘“…From the Peak of Amanah”’. 105–84 Borger. 1918. fasc. The Prosopography of the Neo-Assyrian Empire. ‘Some Comments on the Shibboleth Incident (Judges XII 6)’. G. ‘The Seal of Baalisha. in A. 15–24 —— 1999. Lewiston. 138 Brockelmann. T.. 108–15 —— 1982. K. Tardieu (eds). (Berlin) —— 1928. Biblische Notizen 97. (Paris) Cogan. Schrift. 1996. C. A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament. I: Laut. ‘“Yahweh and His Asherah”: The Goddess or Her Symbol?’ VT 49. Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia5 (ed. 255–9 Day. 1997. ‘“Arabs” in Babylonia in the 8th Century B. King of the Ammonites: Some Remarks’. Proceedings of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities 6:2. 1976. Beitrage zur Inschriftenwerk Assurbanipals. §46m. ABD I. Gamharat an-nasab: Das genealogische Werk des Hisam ibn MuÌammad al-Kalbi. ABD I. 1995. 24 . I.. J. 13–17 Bergstrasser. D. W. 1993. n. 1/I (Helsinki). and C.und Formenlehre. 1907.E. ‘Baalis. Amsterdamse cahiers voor exegese en bijbelse theologie 14. 1982. 106–30 Emerton. ‘Ashtoreth (Deity)’. (Wiesbaden) Breckwoldt. REFERENCES Aufrecht. 2.A.g. B. A. M.’. (Halle) Caskel. J. ‘Astar-qumu’.und Lautlehre. (Leiden) Cohen. S. 66 Diebner. Driver.DEVELOPMENTS OF THE PROTO-SEMITIC PHONEME /†∞/ IN IRON AGE characteristic of all Canaanite dialects of the Iron Age67 stands out as the most reasonable conclusion on the basis of the available data. Radner (ed.R. Legasse and M. JSS 38. the King of the Ammonites: An Epigraphical Note on Jeremiah 40:14’. IEJ 34. S. Neukirchen-Vluyn). R. 491 —— 1992b. NY) Becking.). (Jerusalem) 67 For this view see. 1984. 491–4 Deutsch. (Ancient Near Eastern Texts and Studies 4. Grundriss der vergleichenden Grammatik der semitischen Sprachen. 15. A Corpus of Ammonite Inscriptions. 46–9. Briggs. 315–37 Eph¨al. Hebraische Grammatik. 1992a. 150–7 —— 1999. (Oxford) BHS = Elliger. 1974. 1989. Melanges bibliques et orientaux an l’honneur de M. Schenker). in K. vol. The Ancient Arabs: Nomads on the Border of the Fertile Crescent. ‘Ashtaroth (Place)’. Lexicon Syriacum2. R. 9th–5th Centuries BCE. Goetze 1941: 128–9.
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